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Book Forum To Educate On 'Isaac's Storm' Issues

Oct. 20, 2011
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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1900 hurricane damage
Wreckage from the 1900 Galveston Hurricane. —Courtesy of the Rosenberg Library, Galveston

The First-Year Experience Office will delve into many of the issues and themes related to this year’s “Bearkats Read to Succeed” selection, “Isaac’s Storm,” with a series of lectures on Tuesday and Wednesday (Oct. 25-26).

The annual book forum “includes a wide range of disciplines designed for relevancy to curriculum and community disaster preparedness,” according to Kay Angrove, FYE director.

Erik Larson’s “Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History” details the 1900 Galveston Hurricane.

“The book forum presentations were selected based on cross-disciplinary curricular and programming opportunities that help frame different academic perspectives of the common student reading experience,” Angrove said.

“We wanted to explore options that would engage the campus community and the larger local community,” she said. “We discovered that many of our own professors on campus were eager to engage students in their areas of expertise related to themes in the book. Our community partners were also were also interested in our engaging students in disaster preparedness and the effects of hurricanes on our local communities.”

The forum will kick off on Tuesday, when assistant professor of history Charles Heath and freshman history students will present a historical look at hurricanes, including primary accounts, from 9:30-10:50 a.m. in Lowman Student Center Room 304.

“Documenting Hurricane History: Pre-Columbian and Colonial Americas" will include historical journey exploring the indigenous root of the English word “hurricane,” as well as the native and early European experiences with storms.

Lyda Ann Thomas, the former mayor of Galveston who oversaw Galveston’s recovery from Hurricane Ike, will showcase “Storm Stories from the Heart of Galveston,” from 11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. in the LSC Theatre.

Thomas’s extensive knowledge and first-hand experience in crisis management and disaster recovery is unique in that her grandfather led the recovery after the 1900 storm, according to Angrove.

From 2-3:20 p.m. Charles Sturrock, SHSU director for environmental health, safety and risk management, will lead a discussion on “Emergency Preparedness on the SHSU Campus,” including campus protocol on safety, security and intelligence; communications; public information; student welfare; operations; finance and administration; and logistics. His lecture will be held in LSC Room 315.

Fox 26 meteorologist and SHSU alumnus John Dawson, who produces the FOXRAD Hurricane Briefing multimedia preparedness resource throughout the hurricane season, will discuss “The Role of the Media in Disaster Preparedness” from 3:30-4:50 p.m. in LSC Room 315.

Tuesday’s events will come to an end that evening when the “No Foolin’ String Band” anchors the “Celebrating Texas Music Open Mic Night” from 7-9 p.m. in the LSC Kat Klub. During the event, students can showcase their talents by performing their favorite Texas music on their acoustic instrument.

The event will be emceed by English professors Gene Young and Bill Bridges and is also open to local songwriters.

Wednesday’s activities will kick off from 9-9:50 a.m. in LSC Room 302 when Bridges will present a creative writing workshop that will allow students to learn how the nonfiction genre examines real people, places and events through new perspectives.

Isaac's storm coverAssociate professor of sociology Lee Miller will explain “What Disasters Teach Us” from 10-10:50 a.m. in LSC Room 315, during which attendees can hear what can be discerned about our social world through both natural and man-made disasters.

From 11-11:50 a.m., assistant professor of political science Jason Enia will examine “Peace from Ruins? Disasters, Diplomacy and Dogged Foreign Policies” in the LSC Theater.

“Since 1999, almost every natural disaster that has occurred within a zone of conflict or within a country that has adversarial international relationships has been followed by expressions of hope that some diplomatic good might come out of the tragedy,” Enia said. “An outpouring of sympathy will lead to spillovers of diplomatic goodwill the argument goes.”

Enia’s presentation will examine if this is this actually the case.

Jessica Debalski, American Red Cross field services manager for emergency services, will show students how to be prepared for disasters and how to inform others within the community during two presentations.

The “Preparing Others for Disaster” workshop will be held from 1-1:50 p.m., and again from 2-2:50 p.m., in LSC Room 315.

Finally, the book forum will close out with a presentation by Saundra Brown, managing attorney of the disaster response unit for Lone Star Legal Aid, on “The Ike Effect: A View from the Ground,” from 3–3:50 p.m. in LSC Room 315.

The Bearkats Read to Succeed program and the corresponding book forum were initiated in 2008 to create a common academic and intellectual experience for incoming freshmen, facilitate a campus-wide cross-disciplinary conversation, and enhance the community among students, faculty, and staff.

“We hope that students not only learn of the political, legal, sociological, and historical perspectives of disasters and disaster preparedness in their own communities, we also hope that students can gain an understanding of their roles in these events and possible career choices within their major fields of study related to these themes,” Angrove said.

“Isaac’s Storm” was selected for this year’s common-reader experience because it utilized a Texas theme, something Angrove said they hoped would make the book “relevant for our students,” and, as “creative nonfiction,” presented an engaging story built around facts.

“This year’s selection, originally submitted in a prior year by Charles Heath, is important, relevant, and meets the requirements to inspire possibilities for faculty and staff to engage our incoming freshmen,” she said.

In addition, a collection of historical items from the 1900 Galveston hurricane is now on display on the second floor of the Newton Gresham Library in conjunction with the book forum.

The NGL's new head of special collections Felicia Thomas coordinated a committee effort to gather such things as the death lists compiled from the reports of the storm (only the "A's" are displayed because there are so many) and some of the locations and numbers of unknown dead; early accounts and photographs in published contemporary works like "The Great Galveston Disaster," "Galveston: the Horrors of a Stricken City," "Galveston in 1900," and "The Complete Story of the Galveston Horror," all written a short time after the hurricane struck; photographs; books about other hurricanes; a case featuring meteorology and equipment; and numerous books related to weather and preparedness.

"There are other novels like John Edward Weems's 'A Weekend in September,' and Ron Rozelle’s 'The Windows of Heaven,' which are well-written with a little different perspective than 'Isaac’s Storm,' said Cheryl Spencer, special collections associate in the NGL's Thomason Room. "Librarians have pulled many books with related topics which are handy for patrons to look over and check out conveniently."

All forum presentations are open to members of both the SHSU and local communities.

For more information, contact Angrove at 936.294.3423 or kangrove@shsu.edu, or visit http://www.shsu.edu/~fye_www/events.html.


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